Sixty is the New Forty Says the Aging Writer

Charlotte_Brontë

I’ll be sixty in a week. There I said it! And I can throw myself a pity party if I want to!

There’s a lot written about the emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of it all. To that end, I’ve chosen to write specifically about the two goals I’ve set that I must accomplish in just less than seven days.

After that perhaps I’ll be able to wake up without reaching over to the nightstand for my iPhone. For it’s become an obsession checking my emails first thing to see if an agent likes my writing enough to represent me. I have two novels out there now, so the odds are better that I’ll land an agent by my birthday, right? If not, now I can play the age discrimination card.

And after that, perhaps I’ll be able to wake up without pulling the scale out from underneath my bed. It’s become an obsession checking my weight to see whether I’ve been able to drop a pound. I’ve always known how to diet and I’m good at it, but I’ve had to try even harder now since I’m getting older.

Lately, I don’t mind and even get excited with those agent rejection letters. At least someone acknowledges that I’m alive. Some agents liked my writing, not the voice. Some liked the voice, but not the writing. Some loved the concept. Some weren’t into the genre and the list of reasons for rejection goes on.

As far as the weight, I’d set a goal to lose ten (nice, random round number and I know it’s to take my mind off of the rejections or perhaps just another reason to hate myself) pounds before my sixtieth. Impossible, my birthday falls right after Thanksgiving and just before the Christmas season when everybody insists you try their homemade peppermint-chocolate-macadamia nut cookies or their rum-laced cage-free eggnog! I’ve tried to cut out sugar, flour, and cut back on my portions as well and still, every morning, the scale hasn’t budged for days.

Okay, so I need approval. Yes, and I know I’m also the hardest on myself. Psychologically, I know the root of what’s wrong but I’m not into writing my memoir (just yet). I’m like the Scarecrow — I need that piece of paper. Some say what’s the big deal? Just self-publish. Just wear bigger clothes, your husband loves you. Those are options, true. But I’m not ready to give up.

I’ve heard that to self-publish is career suicide. I’ve come a long way to get to this point. Not as long as others, true, and not as soon. It took me many years arguing with myself about my ability to write, but once I decided to get serious, I published (not exactly self-published!) my first book thirteen years ago, I earned my Writer’s Certificate from UCLA where I graduated with honors, was nominated for a Kirkwood Literary prize, finished two more novels — working on a fourth. Some of my poetry and short stories have been published. I have three screenplays out there garnering awards at film festivals. I make money ghostwriting. And yet the only thing that seems to matter to me is the one thing that I haven’t been able to accomplish – to land an agent. I hate that I don’t have any control over that except for what I know — to try harder!

As far as the weight thing, that’s always been a thing growing up. In my fairytale fictional version I’d write that perhaps, because of the rampant killer diabetes in the family, it was engrained in me to stay thin. The truth is, however, that skinny was just more beautiful — more princess-like. I was anorexic at sixteen. Weirdly, when I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic last year, I might have gotten a little excited. Because now that meant — besides the age thing — that I really had a worthy opponent. I was also a little shocked, say what? because as healthy (salads, fish, chicken, no fried foods) as I’d tried to be, it still wasn’t enough. (I rationalized that sitting at the computer writing all day was the culprit.) The diagnoses pushed me to try harder. I immediately took control, bringing down the numbers on the scale as well as my blood sugar numbers. I did a little dance, fist pumping the air as I put my foot down upon my opponent’s back. But it’s about maintenance, too. You can’t slip. The other shoe is always ready to drop. It lies dormant waiting for you to fail. And I HATE to fail! I mustn’t fail!

So, as far as I see it, to self-publish would be like lifting my foot or like eating a double cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake after all of the hard work. Just sayin’. I know that every once in awhile you just gotta do it! You just gotta pay the price, that’s all. So as long as you can be satisfied and say it was all worth it, then go for it! But, I’m not ready to throw in the towel. I feel like I can go another round. I still have a few more days until I turn sixty! Come on! Isn’t sixty the new forty? Yeah, and haven’t we all just evolved into bigger, Amazonian people? And, who needs an agent nowadays when you can publish on Amazon? Okay, time to check my emails.

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